41 migrants missing after new Mediterranean shipwreck

AFP , AP , Wednesday 9 Aug 2023

Forty-one migrants including three children are feared dead after a shipwreck last week in the Mediterranean, UN agencies said, citing four survivors brought to the Italian island of Lampedusa Wednesday.

Migrants are carried by a MSF rescue team boat after being rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. AP


Their metal boat overturned during bad weather during the night of Thursday to Friday after setting off from the Tunisian port of Sfax, said a joint statement from the UN agencies for refugees, children and migration.

According to Italian state RAI television and ANSA news agency, the four survivors were first rescued by the Maltese-flagged bulk carrier Rimona in the Straits of Sicily. They were then transferred to the Italian coast guard, which brought them to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

The island, which is closer to Africa than the Italian mainland, is a frequent destination for migrant smugglers and has seen it's migrant holding centre repeatedly overcrowded with new arrivals this summer.

Alessandra Filograno, a spokeswoman for the Italian Red Cross, confirmed four survivors arrived at the Lampedusa centre Wednesday morning: two men, a woman and an unaccompanied minor. Filograno had no further information.

Neither ANSA nor RAI provided attribution for the information but reported the four survivors — who hailed from Ivory Coast and Guinea — as saying that 41 people died, including three children.

This summer, there have been numerous shipwrecks of smugglers’ boats leaving from Tunisia bound for Italy. According to the Interior Ministry, more than 93,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, more than twice the 45,000 who arrived during the same period in 2022.

The top nationalities of those arriving are from Guinea, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Tunisia.

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, whose right-wing government includes the anti-migrant League party, has galvanized the European Union to join it in efforts to coax Tunisia to crack down on smuggling operations, but the boats continue to set off.

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